Colombo: The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Saturday said External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj would raise the fishermen issue with her counterpart in Colombo as well as Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe, adding that this is a humanitarian and emotive issue which requires longer term solutions.
"The External Affairs Minister will certainly take up this matter today as part of her discussions, both with her Sri Lankan counterpart and with the Sri Lankan Prime Minister. The issue of Indian fishermen is an issue that India and Sri Lanka have discussed together on several occasions in the past," MEA official spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin told ANI here.
"It is a humanitarian issue, an emotive issue and this is an issue of livelihood. This is an issue which requires longer term solutions. There are no quick-fix solutions to this. We intend to work with our Sri Lankan interlocutors to ensure that both India and Sri Lanka are able to work together on this matter," he added.
The MEA spokesperson further said that both countries can work together in a peaceful and diplomatic manner on this issue.
"The External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj is on a visit to Sri Lanka to pave the way for Prime Minister Narendra Modi`s visit here in a bilateral context after 28 years. She is expected to meet her counterpart, Mrs. Samaraweera, as well as call on Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe," he added.
Prime Minister Modi is expected to arrive in Sri Lanka on a two-day visit on March 13 and 14.
The Sri Lankan Prime Minister had earlier on Friday said that his government was willing to make a `reasonable deal` with India with respect to the fishing rights, adding that the law creates provisions for a man to `shoot` an intruder in his home.
"If someone tries to break into my house, I can shoot. If he gets killed...Law allows me to do that... On the fishermen issue, As far as I`m concerned, I have very very strong lines. These are our waters...Fishermen of Jaffna should be allowed to fish. We stopped them from fishing, which is why the Indian fishermen came in. They are willing to have a deal...Let`s have a reasonable deal... But not at the expense of the income of the Northern Fishermen," Prime Minister Wickremasinghe said in an exclusive interview to Thanthi TV, a Chennai based news channel.